Released last year, WebSphere App Server V5 was a significant upgrade for IBM.
In a succession of previous releases, the company had quickly pulled together
a variety of products. With V5, IBM could start to tout WebSphere as working
off of a single code base, albeit with multiple configuration options. Formal
availability was announced in November 2002.
The release was also marked by support for J2EE 1.3 Message Beans and IBM's
native high-performance Java Messaging Service (JMS) implementation. V5 also
supports container-managed messaging. Like others among the top rung of J2EE
app server makers, IBM is increasing its focus on performance scalability and
app server management, especially as it relates to reliability and availability.
Version 5 includes improvements that allow administrators to use Java Management
Extensions (JMX) that record and log stats on usage and resources [see Manage
Java apps for premium performance , by Peter Bochner]. Support like that is
a clear sign that Java is moving toward wider, everyday enterprise deployment.
IBM posits its administrator-related improvements under the aegis of its autonomic
computing initiative. The system can be set to automatically detect and resolve,
some problems. This is described as a form of automatic tuning, and is associated
with system self-healing and self-optimization.
''The application server has become an operating system for the network,''
said Scott Hebner, IBM's director of marketing for WebSphere. ''Now transactional
capabilities become real important,'' he said.
''With WebSphere Application Server 5, we are seeing a shift in usage,'' noted
Hebner. ''It's much more than just a J2EE server. It has a full complement of
business integration facilities and integrated workflow. It supports clustering
and multi-domain managing of server farms.
''The market is evolving into IBM's sweet spot -- high transaction environments,''
Looking ahead, Hebner foresees improvements in what people now call the ''choreography''
of various integrated apps. He also suggests that more advanced clustering and
failover server traits will lead the way toward Grid computing, a notion forwarded
by IBM and others.
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